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Sylvia Woods, “The Queen of Soul Food”, whose Harlem restaurant was frequented by politicians, celebrities and tourists, died on Thursday at her home in Westchester County, N.Y. Woods was 86 years old. Her family reported that she was dead and stated that she had been fighting Alzheimer’s disease for quite some time now. 2012 marked her restaurant’s 50th anniversary. Woods was set to receive an award commemorating the anniversary later on Thursday evening from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion, located on the upper east river.


“Sylvia’s Restaurant” opened on August 1, 1962 at 127th street and Lenox Avenue. The restaurant started off by offering soul food dishes such as ribs, hot cakes, corn bread and fried chicken. Locals fell in love with her cooking and word spread like a wild fire, crowning Sylvia the “Queen of Soul-Food” Sylvia’s Restaurant has served many different icons across the globe including: Muhammad Ali, Diana Ross, Bill Clinton, Jack Kemp, Robert F. Kennedy and the list goes on. 

In the 1950s, Ms. Woods took on a job as a waitress at a Harlem Luncheonette called “Johnson’s”. This was the first time she had set foot in a restaurant due to the fact that she was raised during the Jim Crow era. Twelve years later Woods bought that same restaurant with help from her mother and changed the name, Sylvia’s! 

– Kwame Morton (@MVPKidKwam)